Persecution and Martyrdom, Matthew 10:16-32

The Orthodox Church typically reads this passage on days commemorating martyrs and on August 1.

Saint John Chrysostom wrote in his homily on the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus was preparing the apostles for a new type of combat. He does not tell them to fight back rather to submit and allow others to help them and be like gentle sheep. Saint Augustine in his Sermon 64A.2 points out that in persecution, one should not be worried about what to say, the Lord will give the appropriate words for the time.

Saint John Chrysostom also states in his homily on the Gospel of Matthew that the apostles can expect that both rulers and the people will be against them. They will be hated and will find that the world will oppose them. But Saint Jerome in his commentary on Matthew points out, that although the apostles should not fear persecution, they should turn away from it and go elsewhere. St. Jerome points out that this out correlating when persecution began in Jerusalem, the Israelites scattered throughout all of Judea.

Cyril of Alexandria supports this in his fragmented writings. He writes that Jesus is not telling the apostles (or anyone else) to be cowardly, He is simply telling them not to deliberately put themselves into dangers so they can continue to offer others the benefit of the Lord’s teachings.

References:

KJV; Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture New Testament Ia, InterVarsity Press Downers Grove, Ill; The Gospel of Matthew, Torah for the Church, Lawrence R Farley, Conciliar Press, Ben Lomond, CA.